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November 8, 2011

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Schools to be freed from over-prescriptive buildings regulations

The Government has launched a consultation on simplifying and reducing unnecessary regulation on school estate, following the recommendations of an independent review on how education capital is spent in England.

According to the Department for Education (DfE), the new proposals provide strong safeguards, especially for vulnerable pupils, and schools will still have to provide well-planned and designed facilities. However, the changes will also allow schools to take a more common-sense approach.

The current regulations for maintained and independent schools contain some over-prescriptive and difficult-to-follow rules, such as: “Light fittings must not produce a glare index of more than 19”; “Washrooms in secondary schools with three or more toilets, or urinals must have two thirds the number of sinks”; or “Boarding schools must have at least 0.9m between beds in dormitories and provide at least 2.3m² of living space per pupil.”

The supporting guidance for schools will also be reduced to a quarter of its former size, from 32 to eight pages of clear and concise advice. A further 5000 pages of other guidance on school buildings will be reduced next year by around 75 per cent.

Schools minister Lord Hill said: “Over the years, schools have been overloaded with unclear and sometimes contradictory rules on school buildings. . . One set of clear regulations for maintained and independent schools makes it simpler for everyone. We are already building new schools quicker and with better value for money than ever before. These changes will help speed this up further, by simplifying the process.”

The consultation on school-premises regulations closes on 26 January 2012. For further information and to take part in the consultation, visit:

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